Just a long drabble/blurb that came out of my despair for Naruto chapter 614. Yes, that means spoilers.

I know, it's not very good, but I felt like letting out a little something. At one point, I was a big Neji fan. After I lost interest in the series, everything sort of faded, but this last chapter was just...powerful. It really struck a chord - a twangy one at that.

Now, I feel like Neji died a "peaceful" death. I agree with Sawyer7mage, a reviewer on Youtube, in the fact that Neji's development had finished in part 1. Had he had room to improve, it would have seemed harsh to kill him off. But in this way, it finally freed him for good.

If someone, somehow, revives him, again I agree that it would just be plain out disrespectful.

The hysterical, crazy part of me is yelling, 1) Why Neji, 2) NOOOOO, 3) -insert Obito WOOAAAHH here-, and maybe a little bit of 4) my NejiTen dreams were just crushed.

But mostly 5) I cannot watch Naruto SD in peace. (sulking in a corner now)

But besides that, Neji died a noble death.

Rest in Peace, Neji.

...~ Taking Flight ~ ...

The sun shone down on the Leaf Village, casting an almost surreal glow to the bright day. Another day for Team Gai, with sweat glistening and the sound of weapons and bodies clashing as they commenced their usual training. No, it would be wrong to say that this was regular training—a war was approaching, and this was the only time to prepare. Somehow, Gai made war training a youthful way to show the world their youth, with war itself being the peak of their training results. Sometimes, the team wondered whether their exotic green teacher really took war seriously, before reminding themselves that he'd supposedly been through the Third Ninja World War.

"Hey Tenten, I forgot my water, can I have yours?" Gai asked, reaching a hand out to take the bottle. The girl promptly snatched it away, lips pursed.

"No," she replied tartly. It wasn't that she hated Gai-sensei, but she wasn't about to share her water.

"Neji, then?" Gai turned to the Hyuuga, who made a face and quickly took a swig of his own water bottle.

"Lee!" exclaimed the green beast.

"Gai-sensei!" cried his student, bowl cut swishing in the breeze that seemed to come out of nowhere. The two began rambling on about youth and sharing, while Tenten and Neji just sighed. Inevitably, the two green-clad thick-browed shinobi would exhaust themselves and return to their sides, but then the training would continue, and they'd spend the day trying to see how long Neji could spin in a circle.

"During the war, I'll beat up those Akatsuki and show them the power of taijutsu!" claimed Lee, spitting out a combination of attacks against Tenten, who warded them off deftly with her weapons.

"Seriously, Lee, I think you should focus," she commented dryly. Despite that, she was quite amused—it was always Lee who cheered up the team. Neji smiled slightly and shook his head, ducking a kunai that Gai threw their way.

By the time training was over, the three students and their wild teacher had collapsed under the cool shade of a willow tree. Lee sputtered a few times when he rolled around and got a mouthful of Neji's hair. Neji shoved him away, annoyed. Lee then made a comment about the long hair, relating it to how Tenten never had her hair down, and somehow ended up getting hit by a gigantic wrecking ball.

"That hurt, Tenten!" Lee wailed, and they all laughed. There was no worry of approaching war, let alone the impending doom that it could bring. Konoha's sun only shone bright upon Team Gai, the team with closer bonds than anyone.

If only the peaceful times lasted.

Tenten headed towards the Mid-Range Division, the First Regiment. The sheer number of shinobi was overwhelming, and the assembly of different outfits and nations was incredible. Neji, in the Second Regiment, chatted idly with his family members. Tenten had seen him approach Hinata, who seemed relieved to see someone she knew, while Lee headed off to greet his unrequited love, Sakura, in the Third Regimented headed by Kakashi-sensei. Tenten herself stuck to the small group of Konoha nin gathered next to each other, awaiting orders.

"See that? Those are the Hyuuga," an Iwa nin was telling his friend. "I heard they're Konoha's strongest clan."

"Really?" said his friend, nodding.

"They caused us lots of trouble during the war," the first Rock shinobi informed his comrade. It wasn't a bad thing, though, because he seemed to approve of it, unlike many others who despised the new alliance. "It's good that they're our allies this time."

"Hyuuga, huh?" said the second. "The bigger the better. We can win this war."

The Zetsus were terrifying. Lee smashed one with a kick, while dodging the one behind him that tried to eat him whole. Sakura, beside him, took out three of them, but was overwhelmed by the fourth. Lee took this as his chance to jump in, destroying the humanoid creature with a powerful punch.

"Thanks, Lee," Sakura said, coming back to back with him. Lee nodded, and then set off into battle again.

Gai was completely exhausted, but that was a trivial matter. He remembered the time he complained about being tired, and his teammates scolded him.

"Aren't you the one who always has energy?" Obito ridiculed with a grin.

"Take better care of yourself," Rin had told him.

Kakashi ignored the boy in green, but Gai didn't care. He huffed and crossed his arms; he would show them.

Now, he followed Kakashi across the battlefield, a head of silver hair appearing here and there amongst the branches of trees. Gai's muscles burned from his battle on the Turtle island, but he cleared his mind of any negative thoughts. This was a war they were in, not a regular mission. No matter what, they were going to win.

"Gai, hurry up," Kakashi called. "We need you up front."

Gai sped ahead, refusing to wince when his left knee creaked and nearly gave out. He gritted his teeth and pushed on, springing forward as if he was full of energy. Fake it until you make it, seemed to be the key here. He would push forward until his energy returned, somehow.

He wasn't getting any younger, after all.

Neji hardly had time to react when the Zetsu grabbed him, sucking his chakra out at an astonishing rate. He was quickly saved, however, and Hinata defended him from another attacking plant man. The Zetsu had been successful, however, because Neji felt impossibly drained. His next attack lacked the force behind his previous ones, and Hinata ended up covering for him again.

"Sorry about that, Hinata," Neji said, between catching his breath and gauging his remaining chakra.

"It's okay. We've got each other's backs," she replied, Byakugan straining to detect more enemies. It seemed they were safe for now.

Neji wondered how the others were doing. Had a Zetsu eaten Lee yet? It didn't matter, because Lee didn't taste very good, and before the Zetsu could even spit him out, Lee would probably use Primary Lotus, or something insane like that. Tenten, on the other hand, would whip out a scroll and beat the Zetsu to death with it, not even summoning a weapon. Those two were fine, and Gai was sure to be on his feet and "youthful" in no time. Neji smiled to himself. His team was fine.

The fan produced such an amazing gust of biting wind and fire, Tenten reveled in its power, which passed up that of Temari's by a long shot. She was about to fire off another one when she suddenly felt wobbly at the knees, her hands shaking. She barely comprehended when a gigantic monster, a moving statue, leapt down from the cliff and snatched up the gourd with Ginkaku and Kinkaku in it. Tenten saw the masked man, who swirled away effortlessly, and then she passed out, the Bashosen still in her hands.

Gai stared at the man in front of him, a part of him shocked, another part scared, and another almost amazed at the miracle before him. He glanced over at Kakashi, who was frozen, but trembling.

No matter. This was as war.

They attacked.

Crybaby Obito existed no longer. The boy that Gai had easily thrown down in the chuunin exams remained standing, now an adult, wreaking havoc on the entire ninja world.

"Let me gather my chakra."

Everyone stared at the fox.

The fact that the Kyuubi could run out of chakra was incomprehensible.

Gai wished he'd had his chakra restored by the fox, too, but it seemed that it was too late now.

Lee and Tenten backed up Naruto and the rest of the Shinobi Alliance as they simultaneously attacked the newly reborn Ten Tails. They believed in their teammate: The world was not going to end here, because they wouldn't let it. A part of themselves thought, And that's because we're Team Gai, after all. The Konoha 11.

There was a distinctive battle cry among the shouts of all the shinobi, which Tenten and Neji recognized as their two green team members. Gai and Lee took off, their Fifth Gates opened, joining the masses of ninja attacking all at once.

Madara said something about how they were pretty much useless. Tenten glanced over at Lee, who was fuming, and Neji, who stared stoically as he analyzed the situation. Even five great ninja countries could not hold down the Ten Tails.

"No way," said a Hyuuga. Tenten was too distracted to look at who it was, but she knew it must've been bad. "That faraway city was just obliterated."

As if on cue, the Juubi then turned and spat out a Bijuu Bomb five times the size of Naruto's and Bee's combined, in the direction of Headquarters. It then settled back down, as if nothing had happened.

First their leaders, and now their minds.

"It's the fundamentals, after all."

Beside Tenten, Team Asuma stared at the flying mass of chakra, dumbfounded. Tenten wished she had her gigantic fan now, though seeing as the Kyuubi and the Hachibi had proved useless against their foes, it seemed like a silly idea now.

"Lend me your ears," a voice crackled in her head. It was familiar, authoritative, but strained. "This is our final mission…"

A little ways away from her, Tenten saw Ino's lower lip begin to tremble as a tear slipped down her face. With her, Shikamaru gritted his teeth and balled his hands into fists. They would win this war.

A distant rumble.

"Listen up!" one of the captains was calling, waving a number of shinobi over. Before she knew it, it was either Kotetsu or Izumo or Aoba or somebody, that swept Tenten away from the group. There was frenzied panic, and all Tenten heard was something about the Hyuuga taking the lead first. She tried to look back, but couldn't find her teammates. There was a flash of green, but it could've been anybody. A group gathered together, full of familiar faces, turned out to be the Hyuuga.

Neji and his cousin, along with his uncle, arrived besides Naruto.

"I'll show you despair," the man atop the Juubi declared. Despair rang in Tenten's ears, hurting her head.

Lee caught glimpse of a bewildered Tenten, and then looked about wildly for Neji. It seemed that his white-eyed teammate had taken to the front with his clan. In an amazing display of an elite shinobi clan, Neji and his family members deftly defended from the Juubi.

They weren't enough. The wood splinter missed him by a hair, taking his hitai-ate with it. It almost seemed as if the Juubi was pointing at them, and before he knew it, thousands of wooden spears were shooting at them.

Hinata spread her arms and stood in front of Naruto.

Neji saw her squint her eyes shut and await impending doom.

Naruto's eyes widened. There was blood, blood everywhere, and all he could think of was Hinata, what in the world was Hinata thinking. The image of his mother flashed before his eyes, protecting his little infant self with her body, letting the Kyuubi pierce her through. The redhead and her father, bloody and dying, but Naruto was safe.

No, was all Naruto was thinking.

Despair rang in his ears.


Tenten saw shards of wood impaling her teammate and her best friend through and through. Lee screamed Neji's name, but it fell on deaf ears.

Because I was called a genius.

He smiled.

A bird fluttered through the air, flapping its wings confidently as it escaped the horror of the battlefield to follow its family.

Like an arrow, a splinter shot it down.

It lay, butchered, in the battlefield, blood and carcass mixing with the earth that soaked in all—Hinata's tears, Naruto's tears, the blood of the fallen, and the dying words of a hero.

The seal on his forehead disappeared; Hyuuga Neji was gone. He finally understood what his father meant by choosing to defy his own fate.

Didn't you say you wouldn't let me kill your comrades?

Naruto bent down close to Neji, shoulders wracking with incoming sobs, and through gritted teeth, his voice filled with agony and the very despair he was destined to fight, he told his fallen comrade, the first of the Konoha 11 to die:

"Your death will not be in vain, I promise you that."

The feathers of a bird wing floated gently to the ground.

I have chosen my own destiny.

How was it? A little rushed, a little confusing, like I was rambling? That's what I think, anyway.

Team Gai was hard for me to depict, so I just chose random scenes from the war.

I'm going to miss Neji. A lot.

I sort of understand a teeny bit of Obito's point of view, now. (This chapter also included Madara saying that Obito had an attitude. lol.)

But back to Neji.

Hero of the Hyuuga, of the Konoha 11, and the 4th Shinobi World War.

You know, seeing depressing Tumblr posts with Neji is making me feel down. OTL.

(and I'm studying for finals. Great.)

Goodbye, Neji.